Essential

Huge Break for Homeowners

In a move driven by the trifecta of politics, p.r. issues, and clear-eyed economics, JPMorgan Chase has announced what The Wall Street Journal calls “an ambitious plan.” The bank will “modify the terms of $70 billion in mortgages for borrowers who are behind on their payments or soon could be.” As many as 400,000 borrowers will benefit from a plan that will focus on the alluringly named “option ARMs.” Keep in mind that this isn’t purely eleemosynary; the bank doesn’t exactly want to become the sudden owner of 400,000 houses. Restructuring these mortgages and allowing people to stay in their houses gives JPMorgan Chase a fighting chance of getting some of its money back. The cynics at The Daily Beast wonder if this is also an insight into the bank’s grim view of the economy: If it thought the housing market was going to turn around fast, and these houses would be fungible in the foreseeable future, it might not have been so reluctant to kick people out.